Photo courtesy Kalitta Motorsports

NHRA: Shawn Langdon back behind wheel of Top Fuel dragster with Kalitta Motorsports

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Former NHRA Top Fuel champion Shane Langdon will soon be back on track.

The 2013 champion lost his ride with Don Schumacher Racing at the end of last season due to lack of sponsorship.

But Thursday, Langdon and Kalitta Motorsports announced a partnership with new sponsor Global Electronic Technology to campaign a new Top Fuel team, the third full-time dragster in the Kalitta stable.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to drive the Global Electronic Technology dragster,” Langdon, 34, said in a media release. “It is awesome to see new companies like Global Electronic Technology come in to drag racing and I am excited to be a part of it.”

When DSR’s ongoing efforts to gain sponsorship failed to materialize, Kalitta Motorsports was able to put together a package with GET to bring the ex-champ aboard.

“It’s been a tough year so far with me sitting on the sidelines,” Langdon said. “It has been the first time since my rookie year in 2009 that I haven’t been able to attend the NHRA races.

“I cannot thank Connie (team owner Connie Kalitta) and Jim O (team vice president Jim Oberhofer) enough for the opportunity. Kalitta has top quality cars that contend for wins and championships, so I feel that this partnership will work well.”

DSR hired Langdon with six races left in the 2015 season after Alan Johnson Racing suspended operations due to lack of sponsorship. AJR had lost its primary sponsorship from Al-Anabi Racing just weeks before the 2015 season began and self-funding lasted just 18 races before team owner Alan Johnson parked Langdon’s dragster, leading to him moving to the Schumacher camp.

Langdon was Top Fuel teammates at DSR with three-time champ Antron Brown, eight-time champ Tony Schumacher and Leah Pritchett.

DSR and Langdon had planned to continue in 2017, but lack of sponsorship forced team owner Don Schumacher to park Langdon and his dragster.

“I also want to thank Don (Schumacher) and everybody at Don Schumacher Racing for bringing me in when I didn’t have a ride and making me feel like part of the family,” Langdon said. “We did everything we could to find adequate funding, and I want to thank Don for keeping me on the payroll throughout the process of trying to find sponsorship.”

Even though he now is racing for a new team, Langdon – who has 14 career national event Top Fuel wins – still has the same goals he had at DSR and AJR.

“My focus is to contend for a championship,” he said. “We are seven rounds out of the top 10 and we have 14 races to catch up (to qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship NHRA playoffs) and I am confident in my chances with the group that Kalitta is putting behind me.”

Langdon now joins Doug Kalitta and Troy Coughlin as Top Fuel teammates with Kalitta Motorsports.

The addition of Langdon will cause some slight juggling within the team when it comes to crew chiefs. Jim Oberhofer will become the lead tuner on both Kalitta’s and Coughlin’s dragsters.

Troy Fasching will also team with Oberhofer on Kalitta’s car, while Glen Huszar and Nick Casertano will head J.R. Todd’s Funny Car team.

Lastly, team patriarch Connie Kalitta will oversee Langdon’s team along with Rob Flynn.

Kalitta Motorsports also fields the Funny Car teams of Todd and Alexis DeJoria.

The team will make its first race two weeks at the next NHRA SpringNationals, April 21-23, at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston.

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Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.